# Inference as tentative deduction

I've heard people make confident assertions about the categorical distinction between inference and deduction, but I'm not convinced.

I'm curious to hear rebuttals to the assertion that "inference is just tentative deduction."

As well as the distinction between certain conclusions and tentative ones, I believe some people may include consideration of the "direction" of reasoning as one of the distinctions between these processes. However, in a situation where I observe an effect and infer a cause, I think it's likely that reasoning follows both direction, in the sense that I may hypothesise a cause and then check if deduction tentatively confirms it. I expect that in the actual thought process of deduction and inference, both these directions are used.

So, is a categorical distinction between these two terms/processes logically justified? For bonus points, please highlight which your are using in your claims.

• "Inference", as far as I understand, is just a step in a reasoning, and can apply to both deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. But it looks like you are referring to "deduction" and "induction"? Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 16:57
• First, it's not clear from the question that you understand that deduction is a kind of inference. Second, there are many examples of non-deductive reasoning and you seem to be just assuming without justification that these examples can all be reduced to deduction. A proposition made without justification can be dismissed without justification. Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 17:07
• Does this answer your question? What is the difference between inference and deduction? Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 21:07
• The Sun has risen each morning of my life, therefore it is likely it will do so tomorrow. Inference or deduction? We could have as one premise "things which have not yet failed to regularly occur are likely to continue that way," and then as long as we respect the "likelihood" component, we are in the realm of deduction, perhaps? It was mentioned above that "deduction is a kind of inference" but I believe I have read many claims otherwise. Could we also say "inference is a kind of deduction," and then maybe have set equality due to mutually inclusive subsets? Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 21:20
• @RobinAndrews I think rather that "inference" in general refers to any step in a reasoning. You can infer a conclusion deductively or inductively. The terms that are opposed here are "deduction" and "induction" (not "inference"). The example with the sun is an inference by induction, although yes, if you add the premise you suggest, it starts behaving like a deduction. The point would be that in a deduction, the logical validity comes from the form of the argument. Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 3:40